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Catchy, different and yet unmistakably brutal! - 93%

s4rcophagus, April 14th, 2009

Sometimes in life, you just come across something that blows your mind. The first time you saw a 3D movie, for instance. Or a flaming vodka. But there are few things that blow your mind in quite the same way or on quite the same level as Behemoth's "The Apostasy" does.

"Demigod", Behemoth's last album, blew most people's minds when they heard it - it repositioned Behemoth at the forefront of modern death metal. Behemoth new they had to pull out all the stops to make the follow up even more brutal, even more chaotic and even more savage. The danger while making "The Apostasy" was to let Behemoth descend into the bowls of endless, generic brutal death metal bands and essentially backfire. But I'm very glad to report that it hasn't backfired in the slightest.

What "The Apostasy" does is take the classic Behemoth formula of chaotic, thick, detuned guitar riffs, violent drumming and the iconic growls of Nergal, and intensifies it to create an absolutely brutal and visceral onslaught of Satanism. Seth and Nergal's guitarwork is as tight as it should be, with razor sharp, articulate riffs that give each track its own character and leave you stunned every time – highlights include “Christgrinding Avenue” and “Libertheme”. The solos are filled with unpredictability and near flawless execution, sprinkled with a hint of whammy for that extra touch.

As always, Inferno’s assault on the drums continues, although as I understand it, a lot of the drums are triggered, so we can’t see his true, unedited, raw talent, which is a shame. This is probably my only criticism with the album – to gain an even more insane level of chaos, Behemoth adopted triggered drums, which is quite obviously fake, tainting the experience a little.

Nergal’s violent, ugly, primeval, growls rage on in “The Apostasy”, and it sounds better than ever. Notable excerpts include the doubling up of two, overlapping vocal lines in “At the Left Hand ov God”, which seem to answer back to each other. He also uses this same method to add in extra raspy screeches to contrast his thick, meaty grunts.

The lyrics, in a departure from true Behemoth style, feature for more historical and philosophical content - for instance, Kriegsphilosophie features a verse with the lyrics: “When heavenly chants mute/Thy apparition did I behold oh Venus/The sweetest ov them all/Let me bathe in Thy divinity descend!/Thou hast descended depart not yet!” – a massive departure from the usual Satanic and anti-Christian themes of Behemoth’s past. Personally, I find it much better for Behemoth’s style, which started to get a little stale and clichéd when I heard Demigod last, and allows them to break from the mainstream.

The songwriting in “The Apostasy” is top-notch, as always with Behemoth – track after track of catchy, melodic, articulate riffs, topped off with the brilliant vocals and a new addition – pianos and French horns, for a suitably majestic, epic feel and atmosphere. The album has a brilliant flow to it, starting with “Rome 64 C.E”, an instrumental that gears you straight into the mood for the follower, “Slaying the Prophets ov Isa”, a cracking opener that blasts off at more than 230 BPM and never lets up. Occasionally we here little acoustic interludes to break up the action, but everything seems to mesh together extremely well to create an album that’s brilliant to listen to both as single songs and as a whole album experience. Songs remain fast, violent, exciting and never bore – no complaints from me.

“The Apostasy” is a landmark achievement for Behemoth – it represents their peak of creating the finest and most refined brutal, chaotic, mindbending death metal of today. It’s not perfect, but it comes damn near it.